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DENR “All Out” in Enforcement of Environmental Laws – VALDEZ

 

A top DENR official directed attention to a recent successful inter-government operation that prevented an attempt at illegal logging in Bulacan, noting that the environment department was at “full throttle in its campaign to protect the environment.”

“The DENR is more active than ever in implementing environmental protection. We’re moving forward and not at all distracted by the commotion at the Commission on Appointments (CA) proceedings. We remain focused and we don’t have any uncertainty within the Department,” said Undersecretary Arturo Valdez.

Close to 29,000 board feet of illegally-cut logs were seized in Bulacan at the Angat Watershed area last week by combined forces of the DENR, the Bulacan provincial government, the Philippine Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion and the Sierra Madre Environmentalists Society Inc.

Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvardo pegged the amount of the confiscated timber at P1.14 million.

Valdez praised the close coordination among various public and private stakeholders in the operation, citing DENR Secretary Gina Lopez’s untiring efforts at ensuring that forests and watersheds are nurtured and protected.

The Department has set up a National Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force (NAECTF) composed of representatives from law enforcement agencies and the DOTr, DOJ and affected local government units. The NAECTF receives complaints of violations of environmental laws and coordinates among its member agencies in immediate enforcement.

“From Day One, Sec. Lopez’s instructions were clear. Protect our environment and our watersheds, whether it be from illegal logging, irresponsible mining, environmentally-irresponsible commercial activities and from whatever disruptive acts that destroy our precious natural resources. The dividends have been paying off. We’ve had successful operations against those who violate our environmental laws.”

Last February, NAECTF confiscated 2,000 illegally cut logs in Agusan del Sur totalling approximately 20,000 board feet.

“The DENR has already cancelled Integrated Forestry Management Agreements (IFMAs) in Zamboanga del Norte and other areas in Mindanao due to contract violations in the last several months. The NAECTF also recommended the same in other areas where illegal logging operations have been verified, and the Department is looking into these,” Valdez stressed.

Valdez cited as additional NAECTF achievements the closure of 52 illegal quarries at Mt. Banahaw, the dismantling of fishpens at Laguna Lake, the detention of a Chinese vessel illegally dredging black sand at Kalibo River, the enforcement of the Clean Water Act among commercial establishments in Boracay beach, the enforcement of the Solid Waste Act in major cities, as well as the closures of establishments violating their Environmental Clearance Certificates (ECCs).

“Without ecological integrity and social justice, we cannot have genuine inclusive growth. In the last several months, the DENR has focused on swift, decisive action to effect social justice,” Valdez underscored.

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